Cell Phone Etiquette: Tips For Modern Manners

Cell Phone Etiquette

Cell phone etiquette is a topic we truly must discuss! It is difficult to remember a time before our devices. They are such a part of our modern lives that we often feel lost without them. However, many of us are committing cell phone faux pas on a regular basis. 

We must lean into courtesy to become better citizens and better friends when it comes to cell phone usage. Keep the following tips in mind next time you use your mobile phone: 

The People You Are With Take Precedence Over a Call 

If you are expecting an important call, tell the people you are with in advance. Otherwise, be respectful to those you are with, who have chosen to spend their precious time with you. 

Step Away From Others When Taking A Call 

Chatting away in public is impolite. Do not take calls in public places or around others. Find a secluded area or step outside to speak on the phone. That goes for restaurants, cafés, nail salons, and stores. If you are a passenger in a car, it is best to avoid taking a call unless it cannot be avoided. 

Do Not Use Speakerphone in Public Places 

Further to the above, definitely avoid using speakerphone unless you are somewhere private. Not only to protect the other person’s privacy but as a courtesy to those around you. 

Consider Your Ringtone

The theme song to Sex and the City might be a fun ringtone for calls from your best friend, but you might be embarrassed if it goes off under the wrong circumstances! 

Know When to Switch to “Silent” 

Switch to silent mode in shared public spaces where people are paying for an experience. This includes restaurants, movie theaters, and nail salons. This also goes for business meetings or anytime you are with clients. 

Avoid “Cell Yell”

The tendency to speak with an “outside voice” on the phone is a very real phenomenon. It is also poor cell phone etiquette! Keep your voice at a normal speaking level whenever possible. 

Cell Phone Use for Children

Many parents today offer their phones to children while in waiting rooms, in line, or at restaurants. Parents who had children prior to the smartphone are undoubtedly envious of this convenience! However, often when this device handover occurs, the phone is being used with the sound on. If you intend to let your children watch a video on your phone at the restaurant, make sure to be prepared with headphones so as not to disturb other diners who are paying for a nice evening out. This applies to any shared public space. 

Note: if you have multiple children sharing one device, a headphone splitter can help solve this problem.

Keep Time Zones in Mind

When reaching out to someone who lives further away, consider their time zone before sending a call or text. You do not want to be sending a text in the middle of the night and waking them up, or calling too early in the morning. 

In general, you do not want to be making calls before 9 am or after 8 pm. Keep time zones in mind to respect this guideline no matter where your contact is located. 

Do Not Put Your Phone on the Table

Whether you’re at a dinner or a business meeting, keep your cell phone off the table and give your friends and colleagues your undivided attention. 

The Camera Function

Do not take or post images of someone without their consent. This is an especially important rule when it comes to children. Everyone has a right to privacy. 

Do Not Text and Drive

The last, but arguably most important point of all. Etiquette and manners are all about courtesy, and there is nothing less courteous than endangering others. My firmest cell phone etiquette rule is: do not text and drive. Whatever it is can wait until you reach your destination or at least until you can safely pull over. 


Looking to incorporate etiquette education into your next event or team-building exercise? 

Get in touch today to learn more about my etiquette offerings, including in-person and virtual presentations and classes.



Lisa Lyons is a renowned wedding and event designer, and owner of Lisa Lyons Events & Etiquette based in Winter Park, Florida. As an eagerly sought-after event stylist, Lisa Lyons has created extraordinary celebrations for an astute roster of clients, including copious celebrity sports figures, five star corporations and respected private individuals since 2003.





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